DuClaw Brewing seeks investor or buyer

DuClaw Brewing Co., the Rosedale-based craft-beer company known for its Sweet Baby Jesus brew, is seeking an investor or buyer.

The company has hired Equity Partners, an Easton investment firm, to assist in the search, according to a news release.

Founded by Harford County native Dave Benfield, DuClaw products are sold in 13 states, with two more to come by September, said Matt LoCascio, a managing director at Equity Partners.

“We have been able to enter more markets in the past 3 years than the first 18 years combined, but growing distribution takes time and money, and I am at a point where I either need to pass the baton to someone else or find a partner to help me take DuClaw to the next level,” Benfield said in a statement.

DuClaw began as a brewpub in Bel Air in 1996, and moved to its current location in Baltimore County in 2014. The brand produces more than 65 types of beer, but its best-seller is Sweet Baby Jesus, an award-winning chocolate peanut butter porter.

“They’ve added two or three new states every year for the past three years, and that takes a lot of mental and financial capital to do,” LoCascio said. “So it’s gotten to the point where they’ve done a lot, but to take that next step, that’s where they’re looking for somebody outside to come in and assist.”

The valuation of the company is “hard to say at this point,” LoCascio said, but he anticipates a strong response from the market. He also said DuClaw would likely remain in Maryland, but that a partner could come from outside the area.

DuClaw’s Bel Air brewpub closed at the end of last year after two decades in business, and is now a restaurant called Humagalas. Two other area DuClaw restaurants are operated by franchise owners and not the brewery.

If an an investor or buyer can’t be found, LoCascio said, the company will re-evaluate its plans, but he said he is confident the brand will continue.

“It doesn’t sound like DuClaw is going anywhere anytime soon,” LoCascio said.

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